Evangelism, Grandma Susie Style
Last week, I received a really unusual call. I had been frustrated about doing a lot of evangelism, developing relationships, meeting people, etc. but so little of it has led to noticeable, lasting fruit yet. People have been willing to talk with us about God and even meet up a couple times, but it’s been difficult to build strong, lasting relationships with people centered around the Gospel. Our prayer has been for disciples, followers of Jesus, fruit that remains, to the glory of the Father.
So last week, my phone started to ring. I looked down at the number, which came up as “Alex Unirii.” When I meet people, I try to put their name and number in my phone with something that I can remember them by, because in Romania there are so many similar names and I already have a hard time remembering everything. So I have an “Alex Street Preacher,” a “George Australia,” a “Kaze Elim Church,” an “Andreea British Accent,” and an “Alex Unirii,” among others.
“Alex Unirii…” I thought to myself. “It can’t be… That’d be crazy…”
So I answered assuming that it wasn’t Alex who I had met at Unirii, because I never expected him to call. “Hello?”
“Hello, this is Alex. We met at Piaţa Unirii last year. Do you remember me?”
“Yeah, of course,” I said, remembering the odd series of events that had led to our meeting.
“I owe you a cup of coffee, don’t I? I want to talk more about this stuff you were telling me about, about Jesus and churches.”
And so we decided to get together in a few days.
That’s nuts, I thought as I hung up the phone, wondering at the amazing God we serve. Last year, when we moved to Romania, our friend Susie, who we affectionately called “Grandma Susie,” came with us for our first month, to help watch the kids as we got situated, learned about the city, and figured out what we were doing.
On her last Sunday with us, we took a cab to visit Missio Dei church, which was meeting a short walk from Piaţa Unirii. For some reason, the roads around the piaţa were all blocked, and our taxi driver refused to find a way around, preferring instead to drop us off on the side of the busy plaza.
We knew the general direction the church was located in, so we started walking that way, planning to figure things out eventually. It was a really hot day, painfully hot. I think we all lost a few pounds of sweat as we walked, and Susie started to feel really weak. In the middle of the piaţa, we saw a tent with people giving out cups of cool water.
“I need some water,” Susie gasped, so we walked over.
Susie was funny because she unashamedly spoke English to everyone she met in Bucharest. “Thank you so much, young man. God bless you for this water,” she told the young guy who handed her a cup.
“You speak English.” he noted, and then, like most Romanians we meet, he asked the obvious question, “What are you doing in Bucharest?”
I don’t remember exactly how Susie responded, because I was preoccupied trying to figure out how to get us all to the church, but it was something like, “This young man and his wife moved here to tell people about Jesus, and I came to help watch their kids for a month. I’m leaving soon, but they’ll be here for a long time. You should meet up and hear more about Jesus.”
Alex, the young man, my “Alex Unirii,” explained he was interested and would love to know more, so we exchanged numbers and I promised to give him a call.
Well, over the next 3 months, I called him about 10 times, he answered a few of those times, but we never were able to get together, so then I just stopped calling, figuring he wasn’t interested.
And now here he was, almost a year later, calling me out of the blue like this.
God, this is crazy. Only You would do something like this, I thought to myself, excited to see what He would do.
Well, last night, I got together with him and his fiancée, I shared the Gospel, I told Him my testimony, we talked about life, food, plans for the future, the church, and, of course, the beautiful Romanian countryside. Alex shared how he really wanted to follow Jesus, and he really liked the idea of the church, but everything he saw in the church seemed so different than what it should be. People seemed so concerned about buildings, money, and stuff that didn’t matter, rather than just following Jesus. We agreed that things shouldn’t be that way.
“I want to help you,” he kept saying. “Right now, I need to find a job, but I want to help you any way I can. Money, translation, showing you around, anything. I want to help.”
After almost three hours that passed as quickly as 15 minutes, I felt like I had just met our Romanian counterparts, two people who I felt closer to than made natural sense. We come from different worlds, we barely know each other, they’re just beginning to search for God, but He began knitting our hearts together last night, and I’m excited to see where He takes things from here. To start with, Alex and I plan to get together once a week to go through the Gospel of John together and talk about what it looks like to follow Jesus, so pray that God leads him into a real relationship with Himself in the process.
Before we parted, I prayed that God would guide them, protect them, and continue to work in their lives. When I got done praying, Alex shook my hand and told me, “Thank you for showing us the path,” and I left, in awe of our all-powerful God who can draw people to Himself even through a cup of water on a hot day almost a year ago.
And that, my friends, is evangelism, Grandma Susie style.